North Branford looking to arm security guards - WFSB 3 Connecticut

North Branford looking to arm security guards

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Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, police have been stationed at all of the North Branford public schools - and that isn't going to end anytime soon.

Seven retired officers were recently hired to patrol the schools, and on Thursday school officials let Channel 3 Eyewitness News inside to see how the program is working. Some of them are retired police chiefs while others are retired police officers.

The next step is they'll soon be armed.

"We're hoping within the next two to three weeks to have security guards armed," said North Branford Superintendent Scott Schoonmaker.

He said they're working with Connecticut State Police to do just that.

Kristen Fitzgerald was hired as a security guard at Jerome Harrison Elementary School.

Besides her upbeat personality, she brings more than 20 years of experience as a retired New Haven police officer. Now she's protecting about 500 students.

"I sing, I dance and I'm very outgoing and bubbly," she said. "But the bottom line is in a flick of an instant I can do what needs to be done. I'm here to protect the kids."

Fifty-five people applied for the positions. Seven of those were hired - four full time and three part time and they cover the town's four schools.

The officers are being paid $20 an hour and the money comes form the school's budget.

Among protecting students they're also educating staff and overseeing security checks like checking in visitors and looking closely at video surveillance.

"All of us have been in law enforcement, been in active shooter scenarios so hopefully we are the front line of defense so the kids are safe and that's the bottom line," Fitzgerald said. "Nobody really wants to think that this will happen in their community but this is a forefront and perhaps this will be used as a model throughout the state on what to do rather than police officers."

And it is.

Other Connecticut schools are now looking into adding security guards.

Newtown's police chief is looking to see how North Branford handles security and will visit the schools sometime in the future.

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